Monterey Mushrooms expands to help mushroom deficit


LOUDON, Tenn (WVLT)-- You may not have noticed it yet, but getting mushrooms this holiday season may be harder than usual.

A major mushroom manufacturer for the United States has shutdown operations and a local plant is trying to pick up the slack.

Almost 40 percent of the nation's mushrooms come from Monterey Mushrooms, their Loudon plant sends out 30 million pounds of the fungi each year and they're getting ready to send out even more.

"We're undergoing a three phase expansion, due to the growing demand," says General Manager, Dirk Cox.

More than 600 people work there, and they are about to hire more.

But growing these mushrooms isn't an easy task.

The full process takes about 60 days for one batch to be completely finished.

Agriculture Manager, Vick Rodgers, took Local 8 News through the process. It starts outside, with compost.

"These piles will stay out here for a total of about 13 days," he says.

Then they're brought inside, "the compost in this tray goes through a six day period, which it's pasteurized."

Then spawn is added and after 13 additional days, it grows.

Now, the mushrooms are ready to be picked, packed and shipped.

"We have a lot of regional and local customers," says Cox.

The three part expansion will include more shipping, packing and storage to streamline the process.

The plant hopes to have the final phase up and running by mid November just before the holiday season.